By CRAIG FREILICH
ALBANY -- An increase to the St. Lawrence County sales tax is one step closer to reality following Assembly approval of the county’s request for a one percent increase.
“We’re awaiting a Senate vote so St. Lawrence County taxpayers can enjoy the benefit of some property tax relief,” said St. Lawrence County Board of Legislators Chair Jonathan Putney (D-Waddington).
The Assembly bill approving the increase was sponsored by Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell, D-Theresa, who represents the River District of St. Lawrence County, including Massena, Ogdensburg, Louisville, Lisbon and Morristown.
“This measure will not only assist the county in providing important services to the community, it will also allow St. Lawrence to take advantage of the growing number of shoppers visiting from outside of the county,” Assemblywoman Russell said.
The bill passage is a significant development in the county’s quest of several years to increase the sales tax rate from three to four percent, which would raise the total sales tax rate, including the state’s four percent, to eight percent. The legislation would allow the increase to remain in effect until November 30, 2015.
Such an increase can only be made if it is approved by both houses of the state legislature and the governor.
“We’d like to implement our five-year financial plan, but we can only do that if it passes the Senate,” Putney said.
"There is one week until the session of the New York State Legislature ends and in order for the County to complete this effort, Bill No. S05104 would have to also pass in the New York State Senate," said a prepared statement from County Administrator Karen St. Hilaire and Putney. "It would then be presented to Governor Cuomo for approval. We anxiously await news on this front to provide the revenue St. Lawrence County needs to lower property taxes for the taxpayers of the County."
The bill is being promoted in the Senate by Sens. Joseph Griffo (R-Rome), Patty Ritchie (R-Heuvelton) and Betty Little (R-Queensbury).